Back in November we ran a feature on the Abbey Beer St. Stefanus. It is an EPIC brew and really complex, but the thing that really fascinated us was that this beer is refermented in the bottle, which means that it matures through time with the colour slowly becoming darker and the flavours become more complex with age. This factor really grabbed us so much that we decided to give it a go!
So we’ve been sent two boxes (24 bottles) from St. Stefanus, all with the same cellar release date and over the next 12 months we will be reviewing how this amazing beer evolves (6, 9, 12 and 18 months)… Tough job resisting the temptation of drinking it all!
As mentioned in our feature back in November 2016, there’s two ways to serve this beer, clear or cloudy (swirling the sediment)…
After 6 Months of Ageing:
Appearance: It’s a slightly deeper amber, almost a glowing orange in colour with very little carbonation and a large frothy head that evaporates quickly, leaving the reminiscence of bubbles on the top of the brew.
Aroma: Rich oak with a slight tropical underlay and hints of freshly peeled banana that is definitely more distinct then our previous review of the beer when is was aged for 3 months. Slight bit of honey coming through ending with a touch of booziness that has mellowed slightly and circulates throughout your cavity gracefully.
Flavour: Still getting the tropical fruity flavour and banana coming through. Hints of sweet honey and more of a dry bitter bite added to the fruity boozy finish.
More defined in both aroma and flavour from our first review. Although in some cases the boldness of this brew has mellowed, this allowed these elements to become more distinct.
AFTER 9 MONTHS OF AGEING:
It’s been three months since we did our last “taste testing” of St.Stefanus… that went quick! So now we’re on 9 months and we can see how well this baby has matured!
Appearance: Very carbonated, with a thick, dense slightly more off-white head and a slightly deeper, brownish shade of Amber than previously.
Aroma: A rich toasted malts, with a hint of breadiness and caramel in the background. A strong musty tropical hit of banana, with a very warming berry-like fruitiness that feels like it is awakening your senses slightly.
Flavour: The flavour is still very tropical, with a more intense bitter, sharp finish that is slightly stronger, leaving a bit of burn in the back of your mouth.
There’s definitely been some changes, but they will probably be a lot more drastic once we hit the twelve and eighteen month mark. So stay tuned!
AFTER 12 MONTHS OF AGEING:
So here we are! Our brew is officially one year old. It’s flown by and we still have one more tasting to do after this but what a journey it has been so far!..
Appearance: The brew is starting to become more “brownish” and hazy but is still maintaning that orange glow, almost the look of Autumn at a glance. With a thick, slightly off-white head.
Aroma: Now this is where things start to get REALLY interesting!… A BOLD blast of banana, a lot more overpowering than previously and more of a yeasty/ breadiness present. This is complemented with a touch of freshly cut grass and a slight underlay of berries to create an almost sherry-like bouquet.
Flavour: Slightly more enriched with flavour, a strong hit of banana, embraced with rich fruitiness and a more pungent, bitter finish.
The ageing process has definitely unlocked more depth to this brew which is becoming increasingly more complex and bursting with character, warming the back of your throat and putting a smile on your face!